The Pied Piper of Hamelin
Once upon a time, there was a town called Hamelin, which was overrun by rats. The townsfolk were desperate and didn’t know how to get rid of them.
One day, a stranger arrived in town. He was dressed in colourful, “pied” clothing and claimed to be a rat-catcher. He promised the mayor that he could rid the town of rats in return for a payment of a thousand gold coins. The desperate mayor agreed to his terms.
The man pulled out a flute and began to play a strange melody. To everyone’s amazement, rats started appearing from every house, barn and street, entranced by the music. He led them out of the town and towards the river Weser, where all the rats followed the Piper’s tune right into the river and drowned.
When the Pied Piper returned to collect his payment, the mayor refused. He argued that since the rats were gone, the Piper’s service was no longer required. He offered a meager amount far less than they had agreed. The Pied Piper felt betrayed and swore to return for his due.
True to his word, while the townsfolk were in church one day, the Pied Piper returned. He played a different tune on his flute, and this time, all the children of Hamelin started to follow him, just as the rats had.
He led them out of the town to a mountain, which opened up as they approached. The Piper entered and the children followed, after which the mountain closed, leaving no trace of the Piper or the children. Only one child, who had been unable to keep up due to his lame leg, remained. He told the townspeople what had happened.
The townsfolk were filled with grief and regret. They searched for their children, but it was all in vain. From that day forward, they were reminded of their dishonesty and its heavy price every time they saw the child who was left behind.
The tale of the Pied Piper serves as a constant reminder for generations that promises must always be kept.